Earlier this week Bing, Microsoft’s self-proclaimed “decision engine” was released. Bing is Microsoft’s latest (and may be last) attempt at becoming a viable player in the search engine market. At press time, Coremetrics reports that Google has 63% of the search marketing while Yahoo! (20%) and the old MSN Live (8%) are getting further and further behind.
Bing is a bit different for a search engine. For starters, Bing attempts to make sense of a mish-mash of random content for users by grouping like content into categories and presents the data for the user to navigate. A search for “baseball” will result in your expected standard search rankings with mlb.com on the top of the list. The categorization is on the left as Bing presents categories as it relates to baseball – baseball equipment, baseball teams, baseball tickets, etc. It’s not a perfect system, but interesting nonetheless, and for some users this guided search navigation is a new thing.
Where Bing really excels is with shopping searches. Search for “cell phone” and the user can navigate further to search phones by brand or by price levels. Sure navigated grouping features have been done before, (Home Depot does it great) but Bing is the new kid on the search block – not to be confused with the five now fully-grown men – and there’s an audience of users that’ll be seeing navigated search for the first time and I’m thinking they’ll like it.
On contrary, if I have to pick one of the more frustrating components with Bing it’s the annoying flyout that appears when you hover your mouse over the right-side of an ‘organic’ ranking in Internet Explorer, which ironically happens to also be owned by Microsoft. For starters, there really isn’t that much valuable information presented in these annoying flyouts, although one guy thinks its Freakin Amazing, and if I’m a user and I’m moving my mouse over to the right side of the page, something has caught my eye and I’m probably not interested in the content presented in the organic rankings. I don’t know… maybe I’m interested in reading and/or clicking on one of the PAID SPONSORED ADS in the right column. Are you reading this Microsoft???
Bing used in IE makes it extremely frustrating for users to click on a paid ad if it’s not ranked within the top two positions. So I predict this flyout feature will not only annoy users, but online marketers will notice considerably fewer clicks and decreased click-through rates as they’re normally accustomed to in Google and Yahoo!… and not to mention potential lost revenue to Microsoft. Again, are you reading this Microsoft???
In summary, Bing is new, Bing is a bit different, and Bing is at least worth trying out. But Bing has a lofty hill to climb if it plans to try and wrestle away even some of Google’s stranglehold on the juicy search engine market share.